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To many in Surf Life Saving, Gina Crick is a woman who’s done it all. But Gina says there’s more to do.

In 1973 Gina Crick joined Woonona Surf Life Saving Club and became a member of the Ladies Auxiliary. Back then her role was serving ice creams at the clubhouse tuck shop. Under the existing Surf Life Saving regulations at the time, that was the limit of women’s official involvement.

Gina’s husband Kevin was a council lifeguard on busy Austinmer Beach and Gina wished she could do likewise. She knew she had all the skills to be a lifesaver.

Gina was allowed to do her Resuscitation Certificate in 1975. Then in the summer of 1980, when Surf Life Saving Australia changed the rules to allow women to achieve their bronze medallions, her chance came. She was not going to miss out.

She commenced training with an Austinmer Council lifeguard, who was an experienced trainer. She gained her bronze on the 13 December 1980 - after six weeks of intense training. There was no special dispensation given to her. The same competency standards that applied to men, applied to women. Gina never asked for, or needed, any special treatment.

“Coming in to Surf Life Saving as a woman, I didn’t want to change anything. I really just wanted to fit in,” said Gina.

That same summer, with her prized bronze medallion in hand, Gina began patrol work. She also discovered a new passion in training others and gained her Instructor’s Certificate just one year later. There was now no holding back this powerhouse of enthusiasm and skill.

Since the early days, Gina has trained and inspired hundreds of young surf lifesavers. After competing in R&R, Gina joined the Illawarra Board of Examiners in 1984 - becoming the first woman to do so. Enthused, she nominated for, and was appointed to become, a Boat Marshall at the NSW State Championships.

“Becoming an official and becoming part of the Board of Examiners was a big thing back in ’82, ’83. I was the only woman official in Illawarra,” said Gina.

Gina is a surf lifesaver by design and nature. She has worked tirelessly at her passion. So, it was only natural that she became a Life Member of Woonona Surf Club and the Illawarra Branch in 2012 and obtained her prestigious National Medal and Clasp in 2013.

Like many in the association, the true value of Gina becomes apparent when talking to those she has trained. She has encouraged so many young men and women to become competent surf lifesavers and then to use this confidence and skill to not just benefit our association, but to do well in life.

Most mornings Gina is found in the water, training children to swim and leading stroke correction classes. The water is a big part of her life.

Gina has competed in craft, water and beach events and today has amassed more Branch, State and National medals in both veteran and open competition than she cares to count. 

Today Gina is active not only in her home club of Woonona, but also neighbouring Bellambi SLSC - which she joined in 1999. She became Bellambi’s first female Club Captain and then President.

Gina, still participates in active patrols, still inspires others and is still saving lives.  Her SLS award portfolio is impressive, with an amazing 79 association awards to her name.

“Surf Life Saving for me means family, community and learning. It’s an amazing bunch of people. When you do patrols you meet people of all ages – it’s a really good experience,” said Gina.

At 64 Gina is still going strong and is not ready to give up being a surf lifesaver anytime soon.  

Written by Dan Michael Meehan

During 2020, Surf Life Saving NSW is celebrating the 40th anniversary of women's official involvement in Surf Life Saving.